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The Contender
Con (against)
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Sea lions are seals

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/22/2015 Category: Science
Updated: 10 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 507 times Debate No: 84206
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (1)




The topic should be self explanatory.


First round: Acceptance only.

Final round: Rebuttals only. No new arguments.

Pro and Con shall not plagiarize, but may reuse their own work.

You flake, you lose.

You troll, you lose.


I accept.
Debate Round No. 1


Argument -

P1 - Any organism of the taxonomic family Phocidae or Otariidae is a seal.

P2 - All sea lions are organisms of the taxonomic family Otariidae.
C1 - Therefore, all sea lions are seals.

This argument is valid. If the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true.

* "P" is an abbreviation for "premise" and "C" is an abbreviation for "conclusion".

Support for P1 -

Support for P1 comes in the form of encyclopedic and dictionary entries for the word "seal". These references are reputable, sufficiently numerous, and are inclusive of the taxonomic families mentioned in P1. The family names have been emphasized.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica [1]
    • any of 32 species of web-footed aquatic mammals that live chiefly in cold seas and whose body shape, round at the middle and tapered at the ends, is adapted to swift and graceful swimming. There are two types of seals: the earless, or true, seals (family Phocidae); and the eared seals (family Otariidae), which comprise the sea lions and fur seals.
  • Oxford Dictionary [2]
    • A fish-eating aquatic mammal with a streamlined body and feet developed as flippers, returning to land to breed or rest. Families Phocidae (the true seals) and Otariidae (the eared seals, including the fur seals and sea lions). The latter have external ear flaps and are able to sit upright, and the males are much larger than the females
  • American Heritage Dictionary [3]
    • Any of various aquatic carnivorous mammals of the families Phocidae and Otariidae, found chiefly in cold regions and having a sleek torpedo-shaped body and limbs that are modified into paddlelike flippers.
  • Collins Dictionary [4]
    • any of two families (Otariidae and Phocidae) of sea carnivores with a doglike head, a torpedo-shaped body, and four webbed feet or flippers: they live in cold or temperate waters and usually eat fish see also eared seal, earless seal

Support for P2 -

Support for P2 comes in the form of encyclopedic and dictionary entries for the term "sea lion." These references are reputable, sufficiently numerous, and demonstrate that sea lion species are of the family Otariidae, which is also referred to as "eared seals." [1][2] "Otariidae" and/or "eared seal" have been emphasized.

  • Encyclopedia Britannica [5]
    • any of five species of eared seals found primarily in Pacific waters. Sea lions are characterized by a coat of short, coarse hair that lacks a distinct undercoat. Except for the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), males have lion-like manes and constantly roar to defend their harems (hence their name).
  • Oxford Dictionary [6]
    • An eared seal occurring mainly on Pacific coasts, the large male of which has a mane on the neck and shoulders. Five genera and species in the family Otariidae
  • American Heritage Dictionary [7]
    • Any of several large seals of the family Otariidae, having a blunter muzzle and a thinner coat than the fur seals, especially the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).
  • Collins Dictionary [8]
    • any of several genera of large, eared seals without underfur, usually living in colonies along the Pacific coastline

Sources -

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8 -



What does it mean for something to be a seal? What does it mean to be a sea lion?

I take the words of sociologist Eviatar Zerubavel to mind for the framework of this round - to win, the affirmative must show that there is an inherent meaning in both sea lions and seals, and that this meaning is equivalent.
  • But how could there not be arbitrariness? Nature presents [things] … without firmly established divisions. Everything shades off into everything else by imperceptible nuances. And if, on this ocean of objects surrounding us, there should appear a few that seem to break through the surface and to dominate the rest like the crest of a reef, they merely owe this advantage to … conventions … that have nothing to do with the physical arrangement of beings.

    I have thus far drawn a deliberately one-sided picture of reality as an array of insular entities neatly separated from one another by great divides. Such discontinuity, however, is not as inevitable as we normally take it to be. It is a pronouncedly mental scalpel that helps us carve discrete mental slices out of reality: “You get the illusion that [entities] are just there and are being named as they exist. But they can be … organized quite differently depending on how the knife moves … It is important to see this knife for what it is and not to be fooled into thinking that [entities] are the way they are just because the knife happened to cut it up that way. It is important to concentrate on the knife itself. The scalpel, of course, is a social scalpel. It is society that underlies the way we generate meaningful mental entities.

    Reality is not made up of insular chunks unambiguously separated from one another by sharp divides, but, rather, of vague, blurred-edge essences that often “spill over” into one another. It normally presents itself not in black and white, but, rather, in subtle shades of gray, with mental twilighty zones as well as intermediate essences connecting entities. Segmenting it into discrete islands of meaning usually rests on some social convention, and most boundaries are, therefore, mere social artifacts. As such, they often vary from one society to another as well as across historical periods within each society. Moreover, the precise location-not to mention the very existence-of such mental partitions is often disputed within any given society.

    There is more than one way to carve discrete chunks out of a given continuum, and different cultures indeed mold out of the same reality quite different archipelagos of meaning. While all cultures, for example, distinguish the edible from the inedible or the young from the old, they usually differ from one another in where they draw the lines between them.
Therefore, I have my stance: sea lions and seals are not the same thing, because they have no inherent or actual meaning. Asking if the words 'poyejf' and 'ujdnfna' mean the same thing when there is no meaning behind them is nonsensical, as is the affirmative's view that there is an inherent meaning behind both sea lions and seals, and that they might be of the same!

Let me expound further. Let's say I take two unknown things that you didn't know to exist, so you have no meaning within them (these represent the seals and the sea lions). How can I say that they are the same thing, when they have no inherent or realised meaning behind them? How can we say that they are the same things when we carve them (through our mental scalpel) to be different things, as they are presented to us as two discrete entities. They aren't the same thing if they don't share the same meaning, and they have no meaning, so they cannot be the same!


As for rebuttals now. (I am allowed rebuttals, no rules say I cannot rebut this round and the next!)

The affirmative uses the guise of dictionaries to substantiate their claim. What they fail to realise, however, is that the use of the dictionary blurs the lines between the true and the false through means of simulation - they simulate meaning in the meaningless, as Baudrillard and Zerubavel point out.
  • To dissimulate is to pretend not to have what one has. To simulate is to feign to have what one doesn't have. One implies a presence, the other an absence. But it is more complicated than that because simulating is not pretending: "Whoever fakes an illness can simply stay in bed and make everyone believe he is ill. Whoever simulates an illness produces in himself some of the symptoms" (Littré). Therefore, pretending, or dissimulating, leaves the principle of reality intact: the difference is always clear, it is simply masked, whereas simulation threatens the difference between the "true" and the "false," the "real" and the "imaginary." Is the simulator sick or not, given that he produces "true" symptoms? Objectively one cannot treat him as being either ill or not ill. Psychology and medicine stop at this point, forestalled by the illness's henceforth undiscoverable truth. For if any symptom can be "produced," and can no longer be taken as a fact of nature, then every illness can be considered as simulatable and simulated, and medicine loses its meaning since it only knows how to treat "real" illnesses according to their objective causes.

Therefore, we can't see that any of their defintions are true, because all that they do is try to give meaning to the meaningless- this is the very meaning of what a simulacrum is, according to Baudrillard. We cannot accept any of their definitions, as they quit having meaning when looked at under any and all scrutiny.

So, their first and second premises both fail to account for the fact that they can't just define themselves out of the trap that they have placed upon themselves. Dictionaries don't present an absolute truth, they simulate it, and we can't look to the simulated when we ask 'what is True?'.

Therefore, since their first and second premises are necessarily false, you can see that their conclusion is false --> they have failed to meet their self-imposed burden.

Vote neg, thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


Death23 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 10 months ago
>Reported vote: AngryBlogger// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Pro (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: Obviously Con had better arguments. "Original" to this debate backed with evidence and proof.

[*Reason for removal*] (1) RFD fails to justify conduct and S&G. (2) The voter insufficiently justifies sources. Merely saying that one side provided evidence and proof isn't enough. (3) An RFD needs to do more than assert that one side had better arguments. It needs to point to specific arguments and explain why one side's were superior to another's. Don't treat this as obvious.
Posted by whiteflame 10 months ago
>Reported vote: dripht// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Pro (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision: FF

[*Reason for removal*] A forfeit is sufficient reason to afford conduct, but not to afford arguments.
Posted by Lexus 10 months ago
Dripht, when posting an argument, click on 'rich formatting' and you have many different choices :)
Posted by dripht 10 months ago
Lexus teach me how to format please
Posted by Blade-of-Truth 10 months ago
Omg, I love the direction Con took this. Awesome haha
Posted by Death23 10 months ago
tbh im not all that interested in arguing it. even if im right theres a big possibility that voters either just wont vote for me or will come up with some bologna to vote against me. theres too much animosity about the sea lion debates in the user community.
Posted by Lexus 10 months ago
If you want to read Baudrillard, just google "Simulacra and Simulation pdf" and it'll come up with the 100 page book. It's a good read, and my quote is basically his entire claim :p But just to verify since I didn't give a link.
Posted by Death23 10 months ago
Hmmm well I might have to think about those arguments. They strike me as a bunch of superficial bologna like you had going with the moon debate. Need to find the write words to crack them.
Posted by Lexus 10 months ago
I'm like 3/4 done just wait lol
Posted by Death23 10 months ago
Alright lets have it. Spill the beans. I want to write my next round before I have to sleep.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tajshar2k 10 months ago
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: FF